Luke 10:38-11:13 by Pastor Dan Walker
Spiritual growth is an essential part of your relationship with God. In this message, we look at three secrets that Jesus reveals in Luke 10-11. Discover the connection between three sections in this passage. Jesus' startling conclusion gives us the ultimate secret for spiritual growth.
Duration:40 mins 19 secs

Today I’ve entitled our message “Three Secrets for Spiritual Growth.” What is spiritual growth all about? Spiritual growth begins when a person is born again, when they commit their lives to Jesus. A person who is not born again or saved, cannot grow spiritually because they are not alive spiritually. 

When a person is born again, the are born as a spiritual baby. God’s plan and desire is for every spiritual baby to grow spiritually. Spiritual growth will then cause that spiritual baby to grow to spiritual maturity. To understand these spiritual principles, let’s think about the difference between a baby and a mature adult. A baby is helpless, they can’t meet their own needs and so are dependent on their parents. Nothing wrong with being a baby, it’s how God designed us to get started. But if a baby doesn’t grow physically, we know that something is wrong. The same is true for spiritual babies, they also need to grow up.

Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV)  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

God made provisions for spiritual babies to grow by placing them in the church, the body of Christ. In the church, there are those who can help and parent spiritual infants to grow or be built up.

Ephesians 4:13 (ESV)  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

God’s goal is that every believer grow to mature adulthood. That goal of maturity, the standard by which we measure maturity is Jesus Christ. So, we are to continue to grow throughout our lives.

Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

God doesn’t want us to remain infants or even children who are easily deceived. 

Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

We are to grow up, to grow spiritually, becoming more and more like Jesus. Physical development of a baby is automatic if the baby is fed and cared for. So many people think that spiritual growth is automatic. The longer you’ve been a believer, the more mature you must be. That is not true. A person can be a believer for 20 years and still be a spiritual infant.

How can that happen? That can happen if a person does not follow Jesus’ directions for their lives. Why does every believer need to grow spiritually? God desires and commands us to grow spiritually. If you’re not growing, you may on your way to dying spiritually. Spiritual growth draws a person closer to God and brings blessing into their lives. That blessing then enables you to be a blessing to others and help them grow as well. So, let’s begin today by looking at the first secret for spiritual growth.

Choose the one thing necessary              

Luke 10:38-39 (ESV)  Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

Jesus came to the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. The two sisters had different priorities in Jesus’ visit. Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching to learn from Him.

Luke 10:40 (ESV)  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Martha, on the other hand, was concerned or distracted by all the things she had to do to serve Jesus and probably some of His disciples. Martha’s priority was getting everything in the house just right for Jesus. The fact that Mary was not helping her get the work done, aggravated her. So, Martha complained to Jesus about her sister Mary. Martha actually told Jesus to speak to Mary to get her to help.

Luke 10:41-42 (ESV)  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,  but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus made it clear what was wrong with Martha’s attitude. She was anxious and troubled about many things. Jesus told her that only one thing was necessary, and Mary had chosen that thing. Mary had chosen to make listening to and learning from Jesus her priority. Jesus was not going to take her away from being close to Him. We also must choose the one thing necessary in our lives.

The one thing necessary in each of our lives for spiritual growth is to build our relationship with God. There are many things in life that can leave us anxious and troubled, just like Martha. Those things that seem so important really aren’t that important at all. Our first priority should always be to build our relationship with Jesus.

How did Mary do that? She spent time sitting in Jesus’ presence and listening to Him. That should be the priority in your life as well. The things in our life that are priority should be done first and done daily, as we’ll see.

How do we sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him? Jesus will begin to tell us about how to do that in the next verses. Will there be time for getting the things done in life that have to be done? Sure there will be time, once we put our relationship with Jesus first. 

If you’re anxious and troubled about many things in life like Martha, something is wrong. Begin to spend time with Jesus every day, a significant amount of time, not just a few minutes. You will begin to see your worry level begin to decrease and your faith and peace grow. Choose the one thing necessary each and every day. In the next secret, Jesus will tell us how to choose the one thing necessary.

Pray daily with the Father

Luke 11:1 (ESV)  Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus showed his disciples how to grow spiritually by example. The book of Luke tells of Jesus praying by himself and in public many times. Jesus, the son of God, spent time daily talking to His father in prayer. The disciples of seeing Jesus pray daily wanted to learn how to pray for themselves.

Luke 11:2 (ESV)  And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.

The prayer that Jesus taught is often referred to as the Lord’s prayer. It was not meant to be prayed and repeated over and over again. The Lord’s prayer was meant to teach some of the basic principles of prayer. Prayer should begin with a focus on your relationship with the Father. In the Bible, prayer is directed to the Father and prayed in Jesus’ name.

Not only is prayer to be addressed to the Father, it is first and foremost about the Father. We pray for the Father’s name to be honored and for His kingdom to come. These first two requests help us to focus on honoring the Father and seeking His kingdom first.

Luke 11:3 (ESV)  Give us each day our daily bread,

This prayer teaches us that prayer should be done on a daily basis. Further teaching by the apostle Paul encourages us to pray continually, throughout the day. We are to pray for God to give us our daily bread. Daily bread refers to all of our needs in life. We pray for and trust God to meet those needs as we follow Him.

Luke 11:4 (ESV)  and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Daily we should repent and confess our sins. Daily, we should forgive any who have sinned against us. To not forgive others who have hurt us is not an option for a follower of Jesus. Finally, the request is that we are not led into temptation. This final request is that God would protect us from yielding to temptation and sinning. If we’ve just asked forgiveness for the sins of yesterday, we need to be prepared not to fall into the same sin today. The second secret of spiritual growth is to pray to the Father daily.

Since prayer is so important, the devil does everything he can to get you to stop. If he can’t get you to stop altogether, he’ll get you to doubt that prayer even works. Once you start doubting that prayer works, it’s going to get harder and harder to pray.

Remember what Mary did, sitting at the feet of Jesus. We need to see our daily time of prayer in the same way. Simply taking time apart from our busy lives and sitting at Jesus feet. Rather than reciting a list of your needs and desires to the Father, just be still and listen. In your prayer time, listen to what the Father wants to tell you. Then respond to Him with your love and worship. By then your faith will be strong enough to trust God to meet your needs and the needs of those around you. The second secret for spiritual growth is to pray daily with the Father.

Ask for the Holy Spirit

Next Jesus tells a story of a man who had a friend arrive at his house from a journey. The man had no food in the house, so he went to another friend at midnight for bread. He knocked on the door, but the friend did not want to be bothered as he was asleep. The man kept knocking on the door until his friend finally got up and gave him the bread he was asking for. Notice how the bread in this story reminds us of praying for our daily bread. Jesus goes on to tell us the principle we are to learn from this story.

Luke 11:9-10 (ESV)  And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

The first principle is that you need to keep on asking until the answer comes. If you give up when the answer isn’t immediate, the answer will not come. In this verse, Jesus speaks of prayer as asking, seeking and knocking. These verbs are in the order of intensity of prayer You ask and if you don’t receive, you begin seeking more diligently and finally you knock vigorously until the answer comes.

Luke 11:11-12 (ESV)  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

These next verses are very important, but ignored by 95% of churches. Jesus asks two rhetorical questions about a son asking his father for a fish or an egg, both forms of food. No earthly father would give his son a deadly serpent or a scorpion when the son asked for food. So, certainly our heavenly father would not give us something hurtful when we ask him for what we need. Why would Jesus have to explain what seems like common sense? We are going to see in the next verse.

Luke 11:13 (ESV)  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus concludes this entire section of the three secrets of spiritual growth with this stunning verse. An earthly father is evil compared to the heavenly father, yet would give good gifts to his children, not harmful gifts. How much more, Jesus says, would our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to everyone who ask Him. This entire passage is about spiritual growth through prayer.

Jesus concludes with the most important thing that we can ask the Father for, the most precious gift of all. The one thing that is necessary for us to accomplish God’s purpose for our lives is the Holy Spirit. Jesus is clearly saying here that one must ask the Father for the Holy Spirit. 

You may be asking, doesn’t a person have the Holy Spirit when they’re saved? Why would Jesus tell us that the most important gift we can ask for is the Holy Spirit? The answer is clear when you read the entire books of Luke and Acts. When a person believes, the Holy Spirit comes into them and they are born again. You don’t ask for the Holy Spirit in order to be saved, you simply believe in Jesus.

But there is another step to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples after He left to pray and ask God for the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God began to baptize in the Holy Spirit, those who asked the Father for the Spirit, on the day of Pentecost. And He continues to baptize in the Spirit, those who ask to this day and they receive the power of the Spirit.

Why did Jesus have to make clear that the gifts of the Father are good, not evil? Many churches teach against Spirit baptism and spiritual gifts as being not of God. Yet, we see here, Jesus’ clear teaching that most important secret for spiritual growth is to be baptized in the Spirit. Ask God for the Holy Spirit.

Oftentimes when we read the Bible, especially the Gospels, we just take out one story or section and study it. Today, we’ve looked at three sections, which are often taught by themselves. Yet, we’ve seen how each of these three sections give us one of the secrets of spiritual growth.

To grow spiritually, we must choose the one thing necessary in life, to spend time with Jesus. In our time with Jesus, we grow by listening to Him speak to us and speaking to Him in prayer. Our prayers should be for God’s glory and His kingdom first. As we put first things first, He will meet our needs in this life.

Finally, Jesus makes clear that the most important gift the Father desires to give each of His children is the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Spirit baptism does not come automatically to each believer, it must be asked for in faith. That good gift of the Spirit gives us the power to be Jesus’ witnesses and spread the Gospel to our world. To learn more about Spirit baptism, I would encourage you to pick up and read the books Power for Life, available for free on the table in the foyer.